Did you know you can participate in the democratic process at the local level?
You may remember that during the 2016 primaries, there was a lot of attention on local political parties and how they work. There was talk about the rules and procedures that were followed by parties at the local level, and many people grew more curious as to how those procedures came about.
In the state of Oregon, there is a representative position known as the Precinct Committee Person (PCP). The PCP is a large driving force in the organization of local parties. Precinct Committee Persons (or PCPs) are the entry-level officials of the Democratic Party of Oregon. They represent the people that live within their precinct to their county Democratic Party.
Each PCP is a voting member of the Central Committee in their county party, and the Central Committee in each county is authorized to make all decisions relating to its county party. As a Washington County Democrat PCP, you will be voting on official Party business such as candidate endorsements, Party resolutions, as well as electing county Party leadership and Platform Convention delegates.
How does it work?
A precinct is the smallest political unit in the country; it cannot be divided by a legislative, congressional, or supervisorial boundary. A PCP is a representative of the party within the precinct in which he or she resides (a PCP may also serve an adjacent precinct).
PCPs represent their neighbors while they debate and vote on the issues that come before the Central Committee. These issues may include resolutions, rule changes, platform planks and legislative agenda priorities. All PCPs may vote to elect the people that will, in turn, represent them as members of the State Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Oregon. Elected PCPs may also vote to elect the officers of the WashCo Dems at our biennial reorganizational meeting (in November of even years). Appointed PCPs are not allowed to vote during the reorganizational meeting.
Oregon’s election law authorizes one PCP for every 250 voters from each major political party for every precinct, depending on the size of the precinct. There is one PCP for every 250 voters, with a minimum of 2 PCPs per precinct. Party members may file for election as PCPs in May primary elections or may run as write-in candidates. Vacancies may be filled by appointment between elections at Central Committee Meetings.
Precinct Committee Person opportunities
- Vote at monthly Central Committee Meetings as a county party delegate
- Nominate candidates for Democratic vacancies in the state legislature or county commission
- Participate in County and State Platform Conventions
- Elect County Central Committee Officers (elected PCPs only)
- Elect delegates to the State Central Committee
- Participate in the Neighborhood Leader Program and other Get-Out-The-Vote activities
Other important things PCPs can do
- Lobby elected officials
- Recruit volunteers
- Solicit small donations
- Act as a resource whom voters in your precinct can contact for assistance
- Build community
At important times, each WashCo Dems PCP should contact the voters in their assigned precinct, by phone or door to door. They should establish a personal relationship with the voters in their precinct, provide these voters with information on the Democratic Party and its candidates, and provide the Party and candidates with feedback from the voters.
How to Become a PCP
Eligibility: To be eligible for the office of PCP, you must have a current, active voter registration in the State of Oregon, and you must have been a registered Democrat for at least 180 days in any state (with exceptions for voters who are applying within 180 days of their 18th birthday). The Washington County Elections Office will review and certify the eligibility of all persons seeking the role of PCP.
Elected PCPs and Appointed PCPs: There are two ways to become a PCP—election and appointment. Please note that elected PCPs have more rights than appointed PCPs: Only elected PCPs may vote to elect the officers of the Washington County Democrats during our Organizational Meeting in November of even years.
1. To be elected, you must file a candidacy form (SEL-105) with the county Elections Office in advance of the May election in even-numbered years. (Note: Write-in candidacies are also possible for those who missed the SEL-105 submission deadline to appear on the May ballot. However, the laws regarding write-in candidacies for PCP have changed in recent years, so please contact the Elections Office if a write-in PCP campaign is something you are considering.)
2. PCPs can also be appointed outside of the even-year May elections. To be appointed, you can use one of the following three options:
- Fill out an application, email it to the Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org), and then be present at the next Central Committee meeting when PCP applications are provisionally approved.
Or, if you cannot attend the next Central Committee meeting, you can either:
- Fill out an application in person at our Headquarters, located at 140 NE 3rd Ave, Hillsboro, OR 97124, to be signed and left with the volunteer at the office; or
- Fill out an application and meet with a House District Leader to have them sign your application, then email the application to the Secretary.
After your election or provisional appointment, the Washington County Elections Office will verify your eligibility and send you written confirmation of your PCP status.
Do I need to be a PCP to volunteer for the Washington County Democrats?
No. Any Democrat can volunteer for the WashCo Dems. Many of our volunteers do not feel the need to participate in the Central Committee and instead contribute to the party by working on our committees, in our office, or on political campaigns. Learn more about other ways to get involved.